Friday, June 29, 2007

Proselytizing in parking lots: not the Church's best idea

We read somewhere a while back -- can't remember where, unfortunately -- that the Church was stepping up its proselytizing efforts. Still, we were both surprised today when, while plugging in the new cell charger from Radio Shack, a young man in a short-sleeved shirt zoomed over to the car to ask if we would like to hear about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We weren't the only ones, we noticed. Missionaries were blanketing the mall parking lot. If someone was sitting in, getting in, or getting out of a motor vehicle, a white shirt and tie was on it. Reactions differed: a kind smile and shake of the head; a hand up with a polite, "Not interested"; and, for one man, "No, no, no, no, no, don't come over here."

We used to hear that LDS missionaries did not proselytize in the Valley. "I think there's a rule," VoU1 said. "I've only been hit up once the whole time I've been here."

"You're never home," VoU2 pointed out. "They come by my house all the time."

Maybe there's more urgency there... Anyway, we think this strategy of approaching people in parking lots (movie theaters? banks? parks?) is a bad idea. For the most part, non-Mormons and Mormons co-exist peacefully in this state as long as neither are, for lack of a better term, in the other's face. A lot of non-members won't care if someone hits them up about the Church and then moves on, but some will, especially because, if you've lived in this valley for any length of time, you've usually had ample opportunity to hear about the Church's teachings. Our Father's Plan? Gift from a co-worker. Book of Mormon? Gift from another co-worker. Come watch Saturday's Warrior with us? Okay...

Part of our concern may be from working downtown for an eternity years. The panhandler gauntlet can make one wary of pitches by strangers. Our bigger concern, though, is the real possibility that being approached in parking lots will irritate otherwise neutral non-members, which seems risky given the cultural makeup of this state.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My legislator went to China and all I got was this lousy t-shirt: Sen. Mike Dmitrich

In Part 2 of our Better Know A Boondoggler series (not in any way affiliated with and/or stolen from Stephen Colbert), we feature the Minority Leader of the Utah Senate, a proud member of The China 14 destined for the province of Liaoning next month.

Sen. Mike Dmitrich (D-Price)

Occupation: Natural resources consultant

Sign: Libra

Likes: Knowing that 38 years in the legislature means never having to say you're sorry

Dislikes: Being limited to one taxpayer-funded vacation this summer

Legislative goal in China: "Goal? Who needs goals? My constituents wouldn't vote me out if I moved to China."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sen. Goodfellow: packed for China yet?

In honor of The China 14's upcoming trip to China at taxpayer expense (less than one month before our economy skyrockets!), it seems appropriate to recognize the 14 Utah legislators who have answered the call to foster world peace and sign huge trade deals for Utah over there in the province of Liaoning. We'll start with the Democrats. First up:

Sen. Brent H. Goodfellow, Democrat, West Valley

Occupation: Education administration

Sign: Leo

Likes: Romantic walks on the beach, preferably in China

Dislikes: Paying for own vacations

Legislative goal in China: Will let us know if one comes to mind


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Green Camry 682 PFC, you are an idiot (8 minutes in a drive thru)

Nothing relevant tonight, just petty rambling and mild satisfaction at overcoming an aversion to taking pictures of people who might see me.

Leaving work at 7:35 p.m., not bad for a Sunday since I usually procrastinate until then. There being almost nowhere to eat downtown on Sunday any more and the candy machine being on the blink, an idea springs to mind as the McDonald's comes into view. This one is speedy; in the mornings, you barely have to apply your brakes.

"Large fry." Yes, that's all. "First window, please." Cruising toward said window, I press the CD button.

Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
As always, I smile when I hear the song, thinking about the French & Saunders parody ("Thank you glossary. Thank you diction'ry. Bless you thesaaaaaaaaaurus . . . ."). Fourth in line, huh? Oh, well. In the distance, Car 1 gets his order but has a question, evidently. The drive-thru employee moves his mike out of the way and leans out the window to hear better.

What the heck? Did the Green Camry in front of me just honk at them? Granted, nobody wants to sit here, but surely a customer is entitled to check his order. Everything must be okay; there he goes. Gleefully, Camry screeches forward past Window 1. Great; they must have paid already--oops, no, they just went too far. They haven't even ordered yet, apparently, or else they've decided to change it. They're reciting the Gettysburg Address to Attendant 1. The driver has turned off the car. The front passenger opens her door.

And Car 2 is off! A long post-Camry line has now formed, though. Well, isn't it ironic--ew, gross! A guy in the back has just stuck his head out the window and hacked a loogey onto the ground. Really looking forward to those fries now.

I ought to take their picture, I think. That'd show 'em! I look halfheartedly for my camera, knowing that I will wimp out and not do it, as usual.

Now Camry wants Attendant 1 to fill his or her cup from an earlier visit. They'll do that at the next window, Employee tries to explain. Good luck.

I can't find my camera, anyway, so it's a moot--oh, there it is. I could take a photo. But what if they notice and assume I have a nefarious motive? I am trapped in this line, after all. What was that movie where the guy escaped by getting the guy chasing him stuck in the drive thru? It wasn't crappy enough to be a TV movie, although not all TV movies are bad, I guess, like that one with--

Camry starts the car again (I can see it's a woman now), and zooms up to Window 2. HONK HONK HONK! She has started honking for the attendant before the car has even come to a stop. You have got to be kidding.

As Camry and Attendant 2 discuss trade relations with China, out comes the camera. You can do this. Quit being a wimp. Pretend that you're bored and just testing the thing. Come on; it's the principle of the thing . . .

Click! Yea! Just in time, too. Camry has received her order, started the car yet again, and driven off into the sunset--after tossing her straw wrapper out the window. But that’s okay; I have a picture.

Friday, June 22, 2007

FoxNews.com racism (Missing-white-woman.com)

We usually stick to Utah topics, but every once in a while something leaps out at us. Over the past nine months, it has become apparent to us that FoxNews.com is, well, we hate to say it, but racist. Check the site daily and you'll need therapy notice that FoxNews.com is the Lifetime Movie Network of the news, devoting disproportionate bandwidth to stories about white women in peril, i.e., white women who are: 1) missing, and/or 2) murdered. If a white woman has gone missing in the United States, especially an attractive and/or pregnant and/or married one, FoxNews has plastered her on its home page, often for days on end. Earlier this year, for example, it featured a missing Tennessee dispatcher every day for a week, usually alerting us that no new clues had been uncovered yet in her case.

Women of color? They don't go missing, apparently, except one African American pre-med student who vanished weeks ago and was mentioned only in passing on Fox--no room for a feature photo, alas. That's not to say that women of color are never interesting to FoxNews.com readers. Heck, one actually appeared on its home page just a couple of days ago:



The lesson: Missing women of color? Boring! Neglectful women of color? Fascinating.

P.S. If you click on the Fox screencap (for full-size) and scan the list of stories that didn't warrant prime space, you might notice a small mention of something involving the war. Unlike Fox News, CNN.com missed the big stories of the day, focusing instead on the yawner that a dozen more U. S. soldiers had been killed:


Dead soldiers? Meh.* Give me a missing white woman any day.

(*In response to an inquiry, this explains the origin and meaning of "meh.")



Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Something wicked this way comes -- Tooele's pet purge

KSL is reporting that the city of Tooele has too much taxpayer money and time on its hands. Fortunately, Debra Bush, an employee at Tooele's animal shelter, figured out one way to kill some time (and animals). According to KSL, Ms. Bush came up with a great idea: Let's have animal control go door to door enforcing a 2-pet limit that hasn't been enforced in 13 years.

This is not a joke. This woman actually works at the animal shelter -- you know, the place that puts dogs and cats to sleep -- yet thinks it would be good to start cracking down on all over-the-limit pet owners, regardless of whether the pets have caused any problems, regardless of whether they are spayed and neutered, and regardless of whether any neighbors -- the people who would know and care the most -- object to them. That'll show those responsible pet owners!

How will Ms. Bush fill her time until those wanted pets start showing up for her to kill? Setting up a new website, maybe. No More Home Pets.gov? The Inhumane Society? Society for the Perpetuation of Cruelty to Animals? Or how about: SomethingIsWrongInTooele.com?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

10 Little Candidates: Rocky's A-kicking and Dave Buhler's true colors

Periodically, we strike someone off our Under Consideration list in the Salt Lake City mayoral race. The oddity that is Nancy Saxton and the misdemeanant that is John Renteria have removed themselves from the list, and we have decided to boot Dave Buhler as well.

Although he is a Republican and we are concerned about the enormous imbalance of power in this state, we gave Dave Buhler real consideration for a couple of reasons. First, a trusted friend/politico ranked him 3 or 4 out of the initial 10. We also like Buhler's support for TRAX to the airport, and some of his vision for downtown. But a letter in the Tribune yesterday got us thinking. Jake Parkinson wrote:

Now that the true story is out about the skirmish between Mayor Rocky Anderson and Dell Loy Hansen, City Councilman Dave Buhler owes the mayor an apology. Buhler was predictably quick to personally attack the mayor before anyone knew what had taken place. Buhler was once again defending bad big-business practice. Hansen's fleecing the city out of millions in Redevelopment Association funding is a big deal. You won't see a sign in my yard. I don't like Dave Buhler.
We don't know about the alleged fleecing, although now that we are reminded that it was Hansen's company whose employees "donated" multiple $2,000 bonuses to D.A. Lohra Miller's campaign, nothing would surprise us. But we agree with Parkinson that Buhler was too quick to jump on the Rocky-hater bandwagon. In the initial story on the confrontation, Buhler told the Trib, "Hopefully, the mayor hasn't just screwed up a great thing for downtown." Without knowing the facts, he just assumed it was Rocky's fault. Buhler's quote can't be excused as not really taking a position; we didn't hear him say, "Hopefully, Dell Loy Hansen didn't lose it and do something crazy."

As a city council member, Buhler presumably could have asked to see the security video, later released to the public, that clearly shows Hansen as the aggressor, and Rocky actually trying to avoid a confrontation until Hansen finally grabs his arm. That's when Rocky uttered his famous line, "Don't touch me. I'll kick your ass!" (Sigh. We want a mayor who, when harassed and then grabbed, will threaten to kick the assailant's ass. Do any of the remaining candidates have it in them? We worry about that.)


Instead of saying, "I can't comment until I've seen the video, or until I've talked to the security officer, or until I actually have a clue," Buhler leaped at the chance to dis Rocky. Mayor Anderson annoys us on a regular basis, but we don't need another knee-jerk Rocky basher in office. We already have enough of those. Dave Buhler is okay on the city council; let's keep him there.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Shurtleff: "The buck stops there"

KCPW has an interesting story this morning about an open letter sent by Mark Shurtleff to Utah educators (on his own nickel, I doubt hope, or perhaps out of his exploratory senate campaign fund). The letter clears up a few things. For one thing, it was just a harmless old "opinion" that he gave the state School Board about the voucher bills:

Neither I, nor my office, was involved in the voucher debate until Governor Huntsman asked for an opinion on the effect of House Bill 174 and whether it could stand on its own should HB 148, the other voucher bill, be rejected on a referendum vote. State law required me to give my legal opinion, and to begin with the presumption that HB 174 was valid.
Guess all those quotes about him insisting, demanding, mandating compliance by the State Board with his "opinion" were wrong. Oh, that's another thing Shurtleff cleared up. Remember when he said, "I have given them my opinion, I am the attorney general, and until a court stays the implementation of that law you have a duty as a public agency to obey the law." Well, it wasn't so much "his" opinion as, like, other people's:

With the help of several attorneys within our office (Democrats and Republicans, voucher proponents and opponents) we arrived at the conclusion that HB 174 was imperfect, but it still contained enough information to be considered a valid law. It was passed as a separate bill and signed by the governor and was not challenged by the referendum process. The Utah Supreme Court reached a different conclusion. I respect the judicial process and am pleased there is clarity for voters.
Remember, there's no I in We!

Yep, those other people in his office really screwed up. It takes all the fun out of press conferences and getting one's picture in the paper if the people who come up with your opinions are just going to make you look silly. Because we all know that Shurtleff would have welcomed contrary opinions with open arms, would happily have rendered any random opinion that his underlings came up with, even one that irritated a conservative base that is already mad at him for being an illegal immigrant coddler. Thank goodness they came up with one that would fly well at, say, a GOP convention in which senatorial candidates are chosen...

The rest of Shurtleff's letter is on KCPW's site. Our executive summary: "Don't be mad at me. I might make it through the GOP convention, but I'll still need your votes in the general election."

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Typical D-News, coddling scofflaw immigrants

This morning, we were shocked to see a blatantly pro-illegal-immigration headline in the Deseret Morning News. "Scot faces deportation," it read. 80-year-old Marguerite Grimmond was born in Detroit, but at the start of the Great Depression, 2-year-old Grimmond was illegally taken by her mother to Scotland. The British finally nabbed her this year when she brazenly traveled out of the country for the first time since 1929. Now she's all upset because, unless something happens, she will be deported later this month to the United States, of which she has no memory, and where she has no family or friends.

Now you can see our problem with the D-News headline: She isn't a "Scot," liberal headline writer, she's an "American." We don't care how long she's been leeching off that country, she (well, her mother) knew the risks and chose to flout the law anyway. Like murder, there is no statute of limitations on entering a country illegally. Deport her ass home to the U.S. where she belongs.

While we're at it, the D-News isn't the only coddler of illegal immigrants. (We don't know which immigrants are illegal or not, so if they don't speak English or they have ethnic-sounding names, we will apply a presumption that they are illegal. We learned that over on KSL.com.) Grandmas Schmidt and Dunlop would roll over in their graves at what we saw last weekend while shopping.


If they don't speak English, why should we warn them that they might be mangled? Please, contact your nearest Church representative and tell them to stop allowing contractors on the downtown project to cater to 'them'.



And what about this? K-Mart is helping disabled people shop even if they don't speak English? Why should they even be allowed to shop in our stores, taking advantage of our blue-light specials?


This is America! We speak English here (sort of). So, let's not have any more of this:


And as for this:


We don't care whose little grandma she is--deport her ass.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Why not to take the D-News online survey

I love surveys. Like any good blogger, I believe that everyone is entitled to my opinion. It is, in fact, an ongoing annoyance with VoU2, who seems to get surveyed every other day, while I wait in vain for the phone to ring with someone on the line wanting to know what I think about laundry detergent.

Needless to say, I was delighted this morning when, upon surfing over to the Deseret Morning News website, a popup asked if I wanted to help improve the DeseretNews.com site. Sure! The survey would only take -- ouch -- 15-20 minutes. Hmm. Wasn't there something I was supposed to do today? What was it . . . oh, yeah--work. Oh, well. What's 15-20 minutes when the D-News is desperate for my opinion?

More local news, please . . . more local columns . . . no, I have not shopped for an automobile online lately . . . yes, I might buy a computer in the next 6 months -- Um, how is this improving the D-News site, again?

Then I got to Question 69, which began innocuously enough. Did I plan on attending political or community events? Yes. Fundraisers? Yes. Gun shows? Do undercover investigations count? "Visit a Casino"? A casino? Rather amusing for a D-News survey to ask such questions, I thought, joking to myself that this could be a clever means of getting people to confess their sins to a certain D-News owner. What the heck, it's anonymous. I went ahead and clicked on the various ways that I planned to offend Rep. Sandstrom's sensibilities in the near future.

Finally, the end drew near. "Be sure to enter your email address in the area below if you wish to participate in future research or to be entered into the drawing for $1,000 in cash or American Express gift certificates," it said. It then asked my first name, last name, and e-mail address. Did I want to give them identifying information after forking over my demographics earlier, such as age, gender, and how much I make? Not today, I think. Leaving the fields blank, I pressed "Submit," and got this:


First name, last name, e-mail address, and phone are "required" in order to submit my survey, even if I don't want to enter the contest? After all this time trying to help you, I have to choose between giving you private information and blowing off the last quarter hour of my life? Why do you need my name anyway? (Can I change my answer on that "casino" question? I thought you meant Picasso.)

There was a third option, of course, which was to provide a first and last name that don't exactly match those on my driver's license. When combined, in fact, they make a sentence. So does the e-mail address that I gave them. The problem, of course, is that I don't know whether the invalid name and e-mail address will cause my results to end up in the waste bin.

No, I don't really believe that my answers were being relayed to the Church. It's just inconsiderate not to warn people up front that personal information will be demanded at the end. That is one survey I won't be taking again.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lunch with Gov. Huntsman vs. microlending -- decisions, decisions...

Blogging is a great creative outlet. One can rant, express opinions, or (occasionally) educate. One can also lose perspective. A couple of days ago, for example, one of us heard something on the radio about an auction for Special Olympics. "Win a lunch with Governor Jon Huntsman!" the commercial said.

Hmm...lunch with Governor Huntsman? "I could get [so-and-so] to bid on it and go along as the second person at the lunch," I schemed. "Then I can ask him all these questions that have been building up and post it on the blog." (I did plan on disclosing that I'm a blogger, just not my name.) Accordingly, I surfed over to the auction, which ends tomorrow. At the time, the bid was $250. (It's now $280.) "Maybe I could get this for $300," I mused, already thinking up some mild interrogation. With a finger poised on the Send button, one of those annoying epiphanies suddenly struck. "What are you doing? Do you know what that $300 could do in a third world country?"

Yes, I am hooked on microlending. $100 would close out this woman's loan request, so that she can buy charcoal to sell in her village in Ghana.

$50 was all this guy still needed to make his rice field in Ecuador more productive.

Microlending (making small, high-risk loans to people of limited means in other parts of the world) is all the rage, an early developer of the concept having won the Nobel Peace Prize this year. We first heard about one of the microlending agencies, Kiva.org, a few months ago on PBS. It was fascinating, the process by which borrowers are screened, and the impact that these small loans (by U.S. standards) can make. "Maybe this will help the impression that the rest of the world has of Americans," we thought.

We weren't the only ones who had that hope, evidently. Loan requests on Kiva by Iraqis -- their identities carefully concealed -- and Afghans are filled early.

Hearing that as little as $25 could help change someone's life, I surfed over to Kiva.org and started reading borrowers' profiles. It may be unPC to say this, but it was fun, like browsing at a Radio Shack (office supply store for you, VoU2). Female or male borrowers? Asia, Central America, Africa? What will the money be used for?

These loans are deemed high risk, so I would just think of it as a donation and be pleasantly surprised if I ever saw any of it back, I thought. But within two months, notices of partial repayments started arriving. Wow.

Don't get me wrong; giving to the Special Olympics is a worthy cause, and lunch with the Govster would be interesting. But there's just something enticing about making an effort, albeit small, to undo some of the damage that George Bush has caused us throughout the non-Albanian globe. As for the blog, guess we'll just have to find something else to write about...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Thank you, DMV perverts (it's a dirty job, but somebody gets to do it)

Warning: Although I have tried to keep this PG rated, certain slang words in the following might offend some readers, and most definitely would offend the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles.

If it wasn't for the ever-vigilant Division of Motor Vehicles in this state, I wouldn't know half as much about sex as I do. Silly me, I drive around the valley for hours, oblivious to all the perversion to which I am being exposed. This morning, Rolly's column reassured me that the DMV is looking out for me.

Yes, the official Utah Division of Motor Vehicles Guide to Sex is still getting plenty of use. Thank you, DMV! Imagine if I had been driving down State Street, pulled up behind a 1969 gold Corvette, and observed a license plate that said '69 Gold. I might have thought it referred to his '69 gold car, not knowing that it was also--well, something totally different.

That's what I like about the DMV's diligence on these license plates: they protect me from English (or, heaven forbid, French) words that might seem innocent and perhaps even amusing to those of us who don't study sex dictionaries or surf porn sites on a regular basis. Without the DMV to protect us, the 2% of people who use certain innocent-sounding words to mean something not-so-innocent wouldn't be able to ban the use of such words by the rest of us.

I am impressed by the DMV's thoroughness. I would love to see the expense account for these plate crusaders:

$18.99 Amazon.com, "38 Disgusting Uses of Kitchen Desserts" ("Sorry, Mrs. Garrett, we are revoking your 'Streudel' license plate")

$22.00 Barnes & Noble, "What Your Pet's Name Says About You" ("I'm sorry, Sweetie, the DMV says we have to rename 'Fluffer'")

$39.99 Ten minutes @ $3.99 per minute, 1-900-TalkDirty

$49.00 Membership in Larry Flynt Book of the Month Club

$125.00 Drinks with tip at Bound to Please Bar and Grill ("So, heard any good euphemisms for . . . you know . . . lately?")
Hey, DMV: When you run out of plates to revoke, I found a new tool (sorry, I mean aid--no, I mean book--is that okay?) for you to use. This one says it has 3,000 sex slang terms--yea! 3,000 absolutely filthy phrases to look at, and think about, and send form letters about . . . mmm . . . . You're welcome.

P.S. While you're at it, could you please require all Hummers to remove their name plates? You do know that hummer can also mean . . . something totally different? Also, if anyone has them, please do something about the following plates. After exhaustive (but incomplete) internet research, I am very concerned that I might be subjected to them:

Bishop -- because that, too, can mean . . . something else, you know.

Cowgirl -- it don't mean what it used to back home.

J.T. -- because it could be short for John Thomas, which, you know . . .

Cookie -- don't even get me started on that one . . . .

And as for all those Bush '04 bumper stickers? I'm taking names.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A word of consolation to Mark Shurtleff on vouchers

Yesterday was one of those days in which too much good stuff was coming out of our court system.

One day earlier, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff had stripped two attorneys employed by the State Board of Education of their previously extended designations as Special Assistant Attorneys General because, according to his letter of termination (courtesy of http://www.slc.spin):
In an effort to cooperate with the State Office of Education, I appointed you as a Special Assistant Attorney General with the specific charge that you “act on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office.” Recent events have demonstrated that you have failed to carry out that charge. Rather, you have fostered an adversarial and hostile relationship between the State Board of Education and this office by giving advice contrary and inconsistent with advice given by me and others in the Attorney General’s Office.
Yesterday, of course, the highest court in Utah unanimously confirmed that the contrary advice being given by those attorneys was right: voucher bill H.B. 174, which amended voucher bill H.B. 148, cannot stand alone. In other words, the earlier opinion that Shurtleff tried to force his client to accept was wrong. (And to all those KSL.commenters who don't seem to grasp the concept, the Attorney General does not have the final say on what the law is in Utah. The courts do. An Attorney General is an advocate, a lawyer just like anyone else, which means that he can be wrong -- horribly, embarrassingly wrong -- as we have just seen.)


So, when Utahns vote on H.B. 148 in November, the vote will decide H.B. 174's fate as well--in other words, voters in Utah get an up or down vote on vouchers. What a radical concept!


A final word to Attorney General Shurtleff: Please don't feel bad about your legal analysis and advice being so totally, totally wrong. With all the experience you're getting working on behalf of Utahns to keep "Dog" the Bounty Hunter out of the clink in Mexico, other clients may be calling you at any moment . . . .



Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cash + Utah politics = great blogfodder!

Taking a cue from Larry Flynt, we have decided to spice up Utah politics by waving around some cold, hard cash. (Flynt recently posted a full-page ad in the Washington Post offering $1 million for proof of sexual encounters with high-ranking government officials. As of Tuesday, Flynt said he had received 76 responses, of which he expects 10 to be verified.) Flynt's ad scored coverage on every major news channel, which got us thinking . . . why not Utah?

Voice of Utah will give one hundred dollars -- that's right, one shiny green Ben Franklin, two Ulysses S. Grants, five Andrew Jacksons, ten Alexander Hamiltons, fifty Thomas Jeffersons, one hundred George Washingtons -- for the first person to provide proof of an illicit naughty encounter with . . . hmm . . . who should it be? How about . . . Sen. Chris Buttars (R-West Jordan)! Yeah! Send your irrefutable proof -- no photos please -- and all requests for interviews and press conferences to VoiceofUtah@yahoo.com. (One entry per person, please. Contest not open to Sen. Chris Buttars.)

How can we afford this hard hitting, cash-based journalism? We plan to make back our $100 the way Grandma would have -- with gambling. (Rep. Sandstrom, please turn away, lest you turn to stone.) For you high rollers out there, we are now taking bets on what Sen. Orrin Hatch will do when the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. In the interest of full disclosure, we should mention that blogger Misty Fowler thinks there might be a remote chance that Hatch has not already irrevocably decided to kiss President Bush on the lips on this issue. Fowler's recent post on the Daily Kos asks constituents to contact Hatch at
Phone: (202) 224-5251
Fax: (202) 224-6331
Email: http://hatch.senate.gov/
and urge him to Just Say No to imprisoning people for half a decade without a trial. It's a tough call, but after a thorough analysis of all factors using state-of-the-art BCS technology, we have decided to take the side that Hatch will vote against -- that's against -- restoring basic habeas corpus rights to prisoners at Guantanamo. We're putting our money where our mouth is: We've got $5 (one Abe, two and a half Tommies, five Georges) that says Hatch votes No on the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007. Hurry up and get your bets in; this baby is hotter than Spurs/Cavaliers.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bored? Why not burn down an LDS church?

We usually refrain from criticizing criminal sentences, because we know we don't know all the facts. We haven't seen the pre-sentencing reports, and we don't know everything the judge took into account. With that disclaimer . . .

Probation for intentionally destroying an LDS church? Probation? Oh, yeah, and Christina Bell must also serve 90 days' home confinement, and community service, and complete her high school education. Ow, stop! Oh, but we can't forget the real corker, ordering the girl -- make that woman, given that she was certified to be tried as an adult -- to pay the Church back its $1.9 million. (The Church is self-insured for this kind of property damage.) After Friday's sentencing, the Tribune article began:

A 16-year-old girl walked out of court Friday, smiling and clearly satisfied with the suspended prison sentence she received for destroying an LDS church in Sugar House last year.
No kidding. We'd be smiling and satisfied, too, even if we did have to spend the next 90 days playing video games and surfing the internet in our home confinement. Why the tap on the wrist? It wasn't just her age. Last month, Bell's accomplice, 19-year-old Michael Aaron Ferguson, also received probation from a different judge, along with the ubiquitous restitution order. Please make the check out to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Do you think she [Bell] would have gotten the same sentence if she weren't white?" VoU2 asked in a phone call this morning. Hmm. Don't know. "Do we even know if she is white?" That led to another interesting observation, namely that we could not find a picture of this woman, not even on KSL, the station that loves to air booking photos early and often.

Perhaps we could compare Bell's sentence to other sentences for LDS church fires. That inquiry led to the disturbing realization that far more LDS church buildings are vandalized by arson than we thought. A brief search disclosed confirmed arsons in just the past two years of LDS buildings in South Jordan, Springville, Idaho, Hawaii, and North Carolina.

We don't know what happened to most of the perpetrators, because we often couldn't find follow up articles. If they were caught, did they get leniency, too? Would Bell and Ferguson have received probation had they destroyed a neighbor's house? We doubt it, but we're guessing that most victims would not ask for a light sentence. The Church asked for leniency, as is its right, and we appreciate a church when it is consistent on forgiveness. Still, what kind of message does this sentence convey? Apparently, that it is (mostly) okay to:

Decide "I want to burn something"

Smash windows with an aluminum baseball bat

Spray graffiti all over the inside and outside of a building

Toss a large container of gasoline inside and light it on fire, and

Try to escape, biting your neighbor when he catches you.
Don't worry; they won't seek a pound of flesh, and there won't be major consequences. Note: We're not blaming the Church for doing what churches do (forgive). We're just venting in the general direction of the system, while admitting we don't know all the facts. We feel better now.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Look, honey--Democrats! Notes from the John Edwards fundraiser

VoU2 attended the John Edwards fundraiser at the Depot on Friday, and scored some good photos. A few pictures and observations:

Contrary to a prediction on the KSL.comment board, more than two people showed up.

It was so dark in The Depot that one wonders whether the people there were trying not to be seen.

Non-alcoholic beverages were free.

A number of people in attendance (including VoU2) had not decided on Edwards as their candidate of choice, but wanted to reward a major presidential candidate for venturing into Utah for once, and to encourage other candidates to give us a nod.

Among the more prominent Dems in attendance: Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, Salt Lake City legislator and mayoral candidate Ralph Becker, legislator Brent Goodfellow (taking a break from packing for China, apparently), and Sen. Ed Mayne, looking well in spite of ongoing chemotherapy. Legislators were comped.

Edwards stopped and signed or posed with anyone who asked. Although a handler appeared to make occasional efforts to steer him toward certain people, Edwards didn't seem to care who it was wanting to speak to him.

The woman in this picture, Stacy Holcombe, is hilarious. Among Holcombe's gems: An x-rated impersonation of how gutless our national Democrats were during the early years of the war, and sarcastically pointing out a gaffe by co-host Jeff Eisenberg. (After a rousing speech by Edwards about helping "the poor, the disabled, the disenfranchised," Eisenberg ended the evening on a slight downer by adding, "When I heard that speech in California, I was inspired." As Holcombe pointed out -- in slightly saltier terms -- it seems rather bad form to remind a crowd that it has just heard a canned speech.)

Eisenberg, like many others in attendance, is a lawyer. One person we know, after reading the initial Tribune story about the event, was left with the impression that the event was only for lawyers.

Edwards smartly began his speech with something that many people wondered about but hesitated to ask: "Elizabeth is doing well."

Edwards then made a joke at his own expense about one of his own gaffes. He wants everyone to be able to emerge from poverty, he said, "to go from the son of a mill worker to paying $400 for a haircut." As the audience laughed, Edwards said, "I told that joke earlier today in Los Angeles, but they didn't get it."



Friday, June 01, 2007

(Post #2): New Voice of Utah home

Note: Given that LiveJournal did not allow us to upload pictures with our last post over there, we have decided to re-post it over here with appropriate illustrations.

Can't upload more than few sentences of text to LiveJournal (again)

+ CrapJournal "working on it" (again)



(Please click on the two pictures in this post to see the full-sized images. It would make us very happy.)

+ Sick of paying $$ to CrapJournal for this kind of service:


+ Three Countless readers anxious to know VoU views on hot Utah issues

= New Voice of Utah address, starting with this morning's inaugural post on the hooligans at Utah Wildlife Rehabilitation: http://voiceofutah.blogspot.com

A squawk about the feds' raid on Utah Wildlife Rehabilitation

We hate to jump to conclusions based on a single news story (especially a TV news story), so we'll make like Jeopardy and phrase our response to this story as a question: What the blank is up with the feds' raid of Utah Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc.?

Utah Wildlife Rehabilitation is an organization that nurses injured wild birds back to health and then releases them. It has been lauded in numerous stories over the years. We first learned about it a few years ago when one of us rescued an injured seagull on 7th East and took it to a nearby veterinarian's office. They didn't handle wild birds -- try finding a veterinarian who will -- but they knew a good organization that would rehabilitate it, they said. Nope, no payment was necessary. (A donation was sent later.)

Fast forward to one month ago, an injured magpie this time, hauled into another veterinarian's office in an oversized cat carrier. After one startled squawk, "Magpie" (creative patient name reached after much consideration) allowed himself to be examined.

"Well, I think this little guy will be just fine--"

"Great!"

"--but you can't take care of it."

"I don't mind; I feel guilty because it was my cat that injured it." Granted, it was probably divebombing him at the time, damn magpies, but still . . . . "I can get a cage."

"No, it's illegal for you to have this bird in your possession. Federal wildlife laws."

"Oh, dear. I wouldn't want to break the law . . . ." And I've never buried a family pet in the back yard, either.

Don't worry, the vet said; there is an excellent wildlife bird rehabilitation service that will take care of the bird until it is ready to be released back into society. No charge, he added (although donations are accepted). If Channel 4 is correct, our federal government raided this respected organization and removed all of the birds in its care -- some of which had been brought there by state and federal agencies -- because, although the organization's principals have had federal permits for years, some of their volunteer rehabilitators do not. No allegation of abuse or neglect was mentioned, just a lack of permitting by some of the people who care for the birds.

We do understand the purpose of requiring permits. As this rehabilitator notes in a pre-raid article, untrained do-gooders may fail to provide proper nourishment or care. But there was no allegation in Channel 4's story that Utah Wildlife Rehabilitation's volunteers didn't know what they were doing; just that they didn't have permits.

One of those volunteers, I suspected after seeing the story, is my neighbor, or someone like her. One morning a while back, as I was sneaking up on an apparently injured bird hobbling along the sidewalk, I saw my new neighbor closing in from the other direction. (Some neighbors are made for each other.) "I think that bird is injured," I said, in case she thought I was stalking it or something. The woman nodded. She was a volunteer wild bird rehabilitator, she said; she had the cages and the food and all that. She would take care of it.

I don't know if this woman has a permit, and I don't care. With the support of her family, she performs a responsible and compassionate service. Since most veterinarians will not treat wild animals, what's going to happen to the injured birds now? Is it better to let them suffer than to be taken care of by someone who does not have a permit, but who works with people who do? And while we're at it, does our federal government really not have better things to do these days than raid a group of people trying to do something kind?